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Posts Tagged ‘bullying’

New laws won’t stop bullying.

In Children and Family, Crime, Education, Health, Local News, National News, Opinion, Politics, psychology, sociology, State News, Uncategorized on January 26, 2015 at 11:25 am

DIH LOGOOn January 1st of 2015, a new state law took effect in Illinois giving school district officials broader power to investigate accusations of bullying – including cyberbullying – even if the activity took place outside administrative jurisdiction. After word spread of the bill’s passing, some media outlets reported, somewhat mistakenly, that school officials now had the right to order students to surrender social media passwords.

According to a report by The Huffington Post, however, the wording actually says, “that if cyberbullying is reported to the school, school administrators can investigate the claim even if the cyberbullying occurred outside of school hours and buildings.”

The report goes on to explain that a bill which took effect in January of 2014 made it unlawful for school officials to force parents or students to hand over online passwords. Brian Schwartz, general counsel for the Illinois Principals Association, told The Huffington Post, “I think there’s some misinformation about [the new bill], because that’s been on the books for over a year.”

bullying2There is no question that schools need to do more to curtail bullying. But, while all the attention has focused these new laws and free speech infringement, the media, and pretty much everyone else, missed the more important issue. Where are the parents in all of this?

School administrators have always been charged with maintaining discipline within the confines of their educational responsibility. However, it was never intended for educators to police kids after school hours or away from district property. They have neither the manpower nor the training to do so.

Worse still, civil liberties organizations have managed to tie the hands of educators to the point that, eventually, even detention will be a violation of a student’s civil rights. Regardless, the big question remains, when did parents abdicate the responsibility of actually “parenting” to school administrators?

Without question, this is a complicated issue, but the long and short of it is this: maintaining discipline after hours should be up to parents. If people are going to have children, they should be prepared to educate them in ways of civilized behavior and establish consequences if those rules are violated.

If a child is threatening or causing harm to others outside of school, it should be dealt with by parents and local police or other authorities – not the district administration. To repeat, they have neither the manpower nor the training for this kind of work.

Expanded powers like those granted in Illinois might seem like a good idea, but granting investigative overreach to teachers and administrative bureaucrats just seems, on every level, like a lawsuit waiting to happen. Imagine if a dangerous bully skipped through some loophole in the legal system simply because the investigation was handled by amateurs?

Such legislation is a knee-jerk reaction during midterm election season which will result in skyrocketing education costs and, in all likelihood, increased legal expenses for school districts. There is no reason school administrators should have such broad-reaching power outside of their areas of responsibility. Once again, it begs the question, where are the parents?

Instead of focusing on it after the fact, it might be a good idea for more parents to take a look at the problem and take responsibility for the behavior of their children before such events occur. Many parents overlook bullying as normal, growing pains. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

According to the National Crime Prevention Council, bullying consists of any and all of the following: fighting, threatening, name-calling, teasing, or excluding someone repeatedly and over time, an imbalance of power (such as size or popularity), physical, social, and emotional harm, or hurting another person to get something.  Cyberbullying includes similar issues, but inflicted over social media.

Some parents might ignore some of this behavior as “just kids being kids,” but it’s not. Kids who bully won’t come out and say so and neither will their victims. Bullying is a form of assault and it’s already illegal. New laws and stricter schools are not the solution. It’s up to parents to be more involved and help prevent this terrible problem.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer and distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications. More at gerydeer.com.

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There Is Life After Bullying

In Children and Family, Education, Health, National News, Opinion, psychology, sociology, Uncategorized on October 19, 2010 at 10:12 am

dih-logo-SEA recent survey indicated that 77 percent of elementary and middle school students reported that they had been the victims of a bully at some time. The information also revealed that more than half of bullying incidents go unreported.

The recent suicides of several teens that had been tortured by bullies because of their sexuality have prompted a flood of media attention to the problem. I am concerned, however, that the public and the media are forgetting about other groups who have always been the targets of bullying including those with physical and mental disabilities, the impoverished and various ethnicities. I can relate to these issues – I know how they feel.

I was born with a serious congenital birth defect that had me in and out of the hospital for the first 20 years of my life. A multitude of medical issues combined with just being physically smaller than other kids my age made me the perfect target for bullies.

Rustin-Kluge-Anti-Bullying

Rustin-Kluge-Anti-Bullying

Oddly, none of my health problems were openly visible to anyone around me. Virtually everything people knew about me was total conjecture and inaccurate rumors with no factual basis. Unfortunately, facts and reason rarely work with people who are terrified of anyone who is different – whether the differences are obvious or not.

As if I didn’t have enough to contend with at the hospital, at school I was pushed, called names, kicked, hit, had my book bags ransacked, my lockers vandalized and my musical instruments thrown around on the school bus – all to the complete oblivion of school officials. In fact, some stood right there while it all happened, literally choosing to ignore it.

While the majority of the adults around me were supportive and helpful, there were a few who were downright cruel. Teachers, coaches and bus drivers are in a unique position to bully under the guise of maintaining order and discipline. *Despite what the party line might be, each teacher or administrator has his or her favorites – athletes, star students, and so on – who will always get preferential treatment. After all, these adults want (and desperately need due to a horribly low level of self esteem) to be liked by the students as much as the other kids.

A perfect example of this kind of ignorance came in my sixth grade year. I was out of school with a simple case of chicken pox. Noting my absence during roll call, the teacher told the rest of the class they shouldn’t get too attached to me because I had a serious disease and wouldn’t live to see my 15th birthday. With that thoroughly incorrect announcement, the rumors went viral.

So why don’t parents get more involved? Most of the time, parents have no idea what is going on. I never talked about it much. I doubt my parents ever knew how bad it really was.

In the end, I won. Eventually, I realized that it wasn’t my fault that people couldn’t deal with me. At the ripe old age of 43, my health is good, I’m a successful writer and entrepreneur and, despite my sixth grade teacher’s prediction, I am still here.

I carry no anger or malice towards the kids who spent so much of their time trying to better themselves by humiliating me. Oddly enough, a couple of them have already preceded me in death. As for those who are still with us, I actually feel sorry for them and genuinely hope they grew up to succeed in life. The adults, on the other hand, were the true villains.

It was nearly impossible to keep my personal issues private in a tiny farm town where everyone gossiped about things they didn’t even understand. I can’t imagine what kids today are going through as every detail of their lives are posted online for all to see – especially those struggling with personal identity issues.

Sadly, bullies are not just in school and, as I pointed out, adults can be just as bad as kids. A bully can be someone who abuses or oversteps her authority as a supervisor at work, a civic official or a teacher who ignores the academic struggles of a student in class because he or she is not one of the star athletes. Bullies are everywhere but you don’t have to take their abuse.

If you have been the victim of a bully, try to forgive them. They are small, sad and hopeless people who have nothing but pain inside. Forget trying to reason with them, it never works.

Whatever you do, don’t lower yourself to their level. Walk away. Turn off the computer. Seek out help and surround yourself with people who care and who will support you. None of these pathetically insecure people is worth your dignity … or your life.